KUSD gets Public Schooled

13 Feb

Sometimes the universe gives you a present. Which is nice, because sooner or later of course, it will exact from you the ultimate price.  The hunter who finds a box of shells doesn’t ask questions.  He goes hunting.  So when a public school teacher wallpapers a 4th grade classroom with the bible, the classroom of the child of a militant atheist activist, well…..what’s the old saying?  You never look a gift horse in the mouth.  You get on it and ride.

Rovers religion.JPG

 

Below is a link to a masterpiece of legalese, forged at the fingertips of one of FFRF’s finest.  The letter is the result of the refusal of teacher, principal or assistant superintendent to respond appropriately to numerous complaints from students and parents alike to an obvious and egregious violation of the establishment clause.

FFRF letter to Kenosha USD, WI

The real credit goes to the students themselves, as well as other parents in the class.  You see, this isn’t just some random class of early elementary tots, susceptible to basic indoctrination techniques .  This was a fourth grade “enrichment” class, Kenosha’s advanced placement students, the brightest of the bright.  These 9 and 10-year-olds already well understood what the principal himself claimed ignorance of:  Bible verses on the wall of the public school are illegal, unconstitutional and unethical.   FFRF sternly warns of the appearance of a pattern of tolerance of religiosity in Kenosha Unified Public School District, including the continued use of creationist compound Camp Timber-lee, whose mission it is to convert all children, and teach them to question evolution when they return to school.

The real shame of course, is the lack of actual learning that goes on in an “enrichment’ class.  Instead of science posters and real thoughts from the founders, these kids get subjective morality and identity politics.  Further, the proselytizing falls on deaf ears and rolling eyes., wasting valuable class time.  The kids whose parents have already indoctrinated them to Christianity are also being under-served by this waste of time, because they’re on board with the message, but still need to learn the actual curriculum.  The others reflect today’s society.  A couple of Pagans, a atheist or two,  a Muslim, a Buddhist, the odd Jewish kid and a whole bunch more “nons” than ever before.  Heck it’s Wisconsin.  There might even be a Hmong among us.

Although teachers need to be aware of the changing demographic (gone are the days when everybody really was Christian, and were taught about Jews like some wacky uncle you might meet one day), this incident points out exactly why it should never come up.   Children from every religious tradition deserve the same access to proper education.

This is FFRF-SEW’s second successful removal of inappropriate religion from the public school systems in SE Wisconsin.  Last year, concerned parents’ complaints led to the end of  the Bristol, WI school district’s unnatural relationship with Christian firm Thrivent Financial.

 

 

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Mythicistopia

7 Jan

When cobbling together the street map for “Infidelphia”, the fictional county served by the virtual railway Atheist Underground, one of the first stops I knew we’d need would be one based on mythicism.  (For anyone who hasn’t checked it out, all the towns in Infidelphia have made-up names reflecting some aspect of the atheist movement: Secularia, Humanistopolis, Rational City, etc.) Having largely come up into secularism with a band of Christ Myth zealots, and having discovered dystopia in the world of community organizing in general, the mash-up “Mythicistopia” seemed quite apropos.

Mythicistopia2

Sadly, that dysfunction continued right onto the train itself, manifesting in the perplexing loss of our co-founder, who was also sound editor, executive producer and studio head, and at whose prodding we had happily walked away from the old show with gaudy assurances of dedication to a happy new endeavor.

Alas, it turns out some of us are activists, and some of us are dilettantes, the latter having rather quickly shaken loose, as chaff from wheat.  C’est la vie….

Now, after a 6 month delay on a monthly show, learning how to edit sound from scratch, and finishing a massive story on penises that was not my idea to undertake, the new podcast is finally out!  In spite of some sound-level issues, on account of my newbie-ness, I’m really happy with this one and I think the material is stronger throughout.

As for mythicism, it remains open to debate whether it constitutes a part of the secular movement at all, and recent events have redoubled my doubt.  The main proponents of Christ mythicism seem to recognize their limited draw will quite naturally tap from the larger keg of skepticism, but have little or no dedication to the needs of the movement or the people in it.  We’re fed a constant stream of unwinnable debates and dry New Testament bickering while secular folk looking for a political ally and an inclusive freethought community walk away neglected, under-served and even offended.  Imagine having a cool Minotaur costume for a mascot, a willing ally in Greece itself, and yet never even talking about Greek mythology.

For our brand of mythicism, we talk to a pagan priestess about traditional Norse mythology/religion instead of tired old Jesus.  We look at the myths surrounding the barbaric practice of circumcision in part one of the big penis story.  We needle another noodge who’s trying to prove the big Myth of creationism, and lot’s more…

You can listen to all the shows for free on the website atheistunderground.com or on iTunes. If you think the show is worth a dollar a month, please consider pledging on Patreon:

 

Thanks to the rest of the team and to all for their patience.  The train is back on schedule, and will continue to pick up steam.

And steam punks I hope.  Love those guys.

 

 

Atheist Underground Debuts in Skepticsburg

11 Mar

The new podcast, which has been taking time away from everything else, including blogging, has launched.  The team has worked really hard to put together a show with this kind of production value and it shows.  The episode contains a great interview piece with four stories woven together, the return of “Weather Jesus”, and more.  Please listen and rate us on iTunes so we can keep the train rolling.

You can listen on the website too, read about the episode, and sign up for the newsletter there.  Also, please consider supporting us on Patreon.  One dollar per show that you won’t even notice missing from your wallet, but that will help keep us taking the piss out of religion and helping to mainstream secularism in America and beyond.

Mind the Gap, Enjoy the Ride!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/atheist-underground/id1209845072?mt=2

Freethought means Atheism, not Anarchy

8 Jan

Just as freedom of speech does not give one the right to shout “fire” in a crowded theatre, the coined word “Freethought”, as it relates to secularism, does not mean every kind of fringe spiritualist and conspiracy theory whack-job who embraces his imagination as proof.  The word was actually invented as a naked synonym for atheism, signifying a freedom from the thought control tactics of the church, and an insistence on evidence-based decision-making (itself a restriction of that freedom, but that’s another bit altogether).  It’s an unfortunate choice of words as it turns out, for after a good century of stagnation, especially in the New World, the resurrected term connotes something very different to many new listeners.  No one can be blamed for assuming that freethought means complete philosophical liberty of the sort enjoyed by many college-aged cognates as they stretch their youthful imaginations once more before settling inevitably on the obvious.  All of us who have clambered down the cobbled path of community organization in this growing movement of the non-religious have had to answer the same difficult question:

Will our secular group include fringe spiritualists who oppose theocracy yet cleave to some form of magic-based belief system?

This may include, among myriad others, Alien origin theorists, New Age Quasi-Buddhists, Pseudo-science practitioners, Wiccans, pagans, Jedis, Gnostics, and Unitarians.  Does their assistance in the fight against the Christian right outweigh the potential upset they bring to the sanctum of reason many atheists expect from their local organizations?  Take a closer look and the conundrum has layers. The crystal-lady likes the solstice party for sure, but she freaks out the “freethinker” whose stringent brand of secularism brooks no speak of spirituality.  Sadly. her inclusion in the community can hearken of hypocrisy to detractors of  the movement in general.  One such visionary, who believed that every myth that was ever invented was a valid manifestation of the same revealed truth, appeared at an atheist gathering.  A gathering of atheists, that is, who chose to leave the word “atheist’ out of their name in favor of the pandering euphemism that “freethinker” has become.  When he stated for the room that Jesus Christ was Lord and so was Odin, and Pele and countless others, heads exploded.  He was quickly expelled….for being the freest thinker at the freethought moot.  The community lost an ally….one with great energy and a true disdain for the religious establishment.

The answer is not that difficult to conjure.  In these days of failing atheist conventions, anyone who wants to be a respectful sponsor should be allowed to participate in our larger events.  Heck if they’re willing to pay the sponsor fee and take the grief,  I’d consider letting  religious groups table at my conference.  Let them try to change minds, it’s liable to make for a more interesting event in any case.  We already see unprecedented cooperation between secular groups of differing stripes at the larger gatherings, putting aside their quibbling differences to present a united front.  We need the the fringe spiritualists in this number, for it is they, along with atheists, who understand and value true freedom of religion.

Meanwhile, if you want to have an atheist group that’s a safe haven for atheists, try calling it that.  Because if you hang a shingle with the word “freethinker” on it, that’s what you’re going to get.  It is known.

 

 

 

 

 

Behind Buddha’s Smile

28 Sep

Behind Buddha’s smile is a wounded child.

The beatific being with the bountiful belly and over-sized earlobes hides a big ugly secret. The West’s favorite “other” religion, Buddhism, and the better-known Tibetan Buddhism of the Dalai Lama, were the topics of this week’s Mythicist Milwaukee show podcast. Joining us in the studio was David DiValerio, associate professor of religious studies at UW-Milwaukee with a special interest in Buddhism.  A “conscious atheist”, DiValerio’s childlike enthusiasm for the subject is that of a true academe: lingering fascination tempered by clinical objectivity.  His one-hour primer on the great eastern religion itself made a nice change of pace for the podcast, thick as it is with Christ-Myth Theory and the Abrahamic faiths.  But beyond basic Buddhism, the conversation quickly uncovered a typical cache of controversy.

The author of two books on Tibetan holy men, DiValerio readily acknowledges that the West is bottle-fed a custom brew of pasteurized Buddhism, but tends to blame the demand side, as thirsty seekers pine for a peaceful, easy escape from the Judeo-Christian guilt/fear faith models that drove them into therapy.  The tall, cool draught of the Dalai Lama is one tasty IPA.  Like a bespectacled, bullet-proof, diaper-trained Gandhi, a New-Age no-judge Jesus, he need but sweetly smile while pearly, well-placed platitudes parade upon on his lips, and we happily drink.

This, of course, is a slickly marketed fantasy, and only a naive fool would think any major Buddhist establishment could somehow be free of the corruption and abuse that has plagued other major world religions.  The truth it would seem, brought to light by a concerned listener, hints at a scandal of more, shall we say, catholic proportions.  Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, as it turns out, house a culture of institutionalized sexual abuse. Not terribly surprising in the all-male schools, where boys are involuntarily enrolled as early as age 5, to live, work and learn under older monks and masters who have taken a vow of celibacy. Say what you want about the Catholics, at least they don’t throw kindergartners into the seminary on a whim, with complete impunity. Several eyewitness accounts from victims have been documented, blogged and YouTubed, but no one is doing anything about it.  Until now.

Listen to the podcast here to get a glimpse at the reasons behind this issue, and follow these links to read more:

Child Abuse in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
Are Buddhist monasteries suitable places for children
Sri Lanka’s hidden scourge of religious child abuse.
Bhutan’s Buddhist monks accused of sexually molesting boys.
Stories of children abused in Bhutanese Buddhist monasteries.
Not in the name of the Dalai Lama.
The lamas who give Tibetan Buddhism a bad name.
Members of Mythicist Milwaukee plan to partner with SNAP, The Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests to kick the door open on this chronic, insidious culture of child sexual abuse.
-RM

 

Cleanliness is next to GodLESSness

8 Aug

HARD BY the bindweed blooms and chicory, in between coyote crap and Queen Anne’s Lace, the stalwarts of KRAFt plied the frontage road again in search of shit.  All manner of shit.  ‘Twas the annual midsummer Adopt-A-Highway cleanup down by good ol’ Apple Holler.  The popular country-themed tourist destination has much to offer, including, unfortunately, bags of collateral litter discarded by legions of give-a-care patrons.

2016-08-06 11.42.24Bucolic fields abut the west; east the interstate screams in the heat.  Scribbled down the middle like a crooked suture, our strip of dirty shoulder both delineates and reflects this striking contrast.  One part lugnut…..one part badger skeleton.  Set against a cascade of colorful parachutes, the cleanup always reminds me of the wonderful juxtaposition of worlds that marks this turf, and remains one of my favorite things we do.   It’s great exercise, something interesting always happens, and it never fails to engender real conversation and strengthen friendships.

This is one of the only pure communities service activities we engage in, and I know in the rush to do greater things, I sometimes lose sight of how important that is.  Yes it’s nice to have our sign out there and yes it’s nice to have someone honk and wave in appreciation once in a while.  But let’s face it….no one gives a shit.  If they did, they wouldn’t have thrown their nasty filth out the window to begin with. No, this is a largely altruistic, completely thankless, utterly necessary bit of do-goodery for the earth, and those who came should be proud.  It’s not easy to get up early on your day off and come out to walk 6 miles, so thank you to those who did.  We even merited an appearance by the Nicaraguan Nightmare himself, Myth-meister Antonio Desconocido.

Among the more interesting items found were an unusual hubcap, a sad mouse who had literally drowned himself in his drink, and a recently rifled pocketbook plopped on the road by a runaway perp. We had six trash-pickin’ apostates apply themselves, about as many as we ever get.  The route was extraordinarily clean, yielding only 5 total sacks of shit, and that includes half a bag from a bridge adjacent to our track that a giddy Antonio could not help himself from cleaning.

The next cleanup will be around Halloween, coincidental to the massive crowds that haunt the Holler at that time.  I know we’ll see you at that one…..helping us clean up after the rest of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Atheist Thanksgiving Grace

26 Nov

KRAFt cover

An Atheist Thanksgiving Grace

We’re thankful that we have our health

We’re thankful for our worldly wealth.

We’re thankful for this smorgasbord,

We’re thankful that there is no lord.

We’re thankful for the food we eat,

We’re thankful for this turkey meat.

We’re thankful for Atlantic Cod,

We’re thankful that there is no god.

We’re thankful for police and then,

We’re thankful for the firemen.

We’re thankful for the rescue squad

We’re thankful that there is no god.

We’re thankful for this bounty which,

Reminds us that our land is rich.

We’re thankful we don’t live abroad

We’re thankful that there is no god

We’re thankful that our life is long

We’re thankful that our army’s strong

We’re thankful for our family

We’re thankful there’s no deity.

We’re thankful that the Doctor’s smart

We’re thankful for the songs and art.

We’re thankful for the path we’ve trod,

We’re thankful that there is no god.

We’re thankful from the mountain ridge,

We’re thankful from the Brooklyn Bridge

We’re thankful from the esplanade,

We’re thankful that there is no god.

c. 2013 Rob Moore